Disability or SSI? Which Should You Apply For

Disability or SSI? Which Should You Apply ForWhen you apply for Social Security benefits, you will need to make a decision whether to apply for SSI, Disability Insurance, or both. It will be essential to understand the differences before selecting one or the other. Here we will talk about what each entails and how to maximize opportunities of being approved in either SSI or Disability.

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is intended for disabled individuals who cannot work and who have limited funds available to them. One factor that is considered is SGA, or Substantial Gainful Activity. This is the dollar amount Social Security believes to be the cutoff for substantial financial need. If an SSI applier is shown to be unable to work and makes less than SGA, the chances are good that he or she will be approved. If he or she is capable to work some, but does not meet SGA, there is a chance of being approved. If the person works or receives income over SGA limits, he or she will be denied. The SGA amount in 2008 is $940.

Disability Insurance, generally called Social Security Disability, is intended for disabled individuals who cannot work but have worked in the past. They must have brought in enough work credits to contribute to the system in the last decade or so. If he or she has worked at least five of the last ten years, there is a good opportunity that there are enough work credits. Social Security will check this information and let you know if you qualify. Disability is also for applicants who may have income from other sources, savings in the bank, or other assets. Unlike SSI, income is not considered a factor.

Many Social Security appliers qualify for both SSI and Disability, meaning they have worked in the past but can no longer work, and have limited income. Unless you know that you do not qualify for one option, it is usually urged that you apply for both disability and SSI. If you do not qualify, Social Security will inform you of the fact.

If you believe that you qualify for disability or SSI (or both) but are still denied, do not be discouraged. As many as 70% of initial applications are refused. Appeal the decision, and if you are denied at the Reconsideration level, appeal again. The next level, the hearing, has the highest rate of approval (up to 70%). Social Security commonly checks if you make over SGA early in the procedure, as well as if you have sufficient work credits to qualify for disability. By the hearing level, the most important question will be if you are disabled. Be sure Social Security has all your medical records and any other relevant records and documentation. With luck and preparation, you may have a good chance of being approved for disability or SSI.